Khachiyan Takes American Open
December 4, 2008
GMKhachiyan, Photo Lola Nunn
At the 44th American Open (Los Angeles, November 27-30), GM Melikset Khachiyan won clear first with 6.5/8. "GM Melik", as he calls himself on his website , was the only GM in the event, but there were four IMs including U.S. Open Champion and November Chess Life cover man Enrico Sevillano, who Melik beat in the final round. Check out complete final standings on the American Open homepage , and USCF rated results on the MSA page. Khachiyan offers annotations to his fourth round win.  



1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0–0 Nb6

Black needs to protect the d4 square.

7.d3 Be7 8.Nbd2

The main line here is for  White to develop the N on c3. The idea of placing it on d2 is also very interesting.

8...0–0 9.a3 Re8 10.b4 Nd4

Black is trying to reduce the pressure on the queenside by trading the c6 knight and putting a pawn there instead.Tactically ...Nd4 works due to White's inability to capture the pawn on e5.

11.Nxe5 Bf6 11.Bb2 Nxf3+ 12.Nxf3!?

Also possible was capturing by bishop.


I din't want to play 12...f6 because of 13.Qb3+ when White controls the a2-g8 diagonal.

13.Nd2 c6 14.Ne4 Nd5 15.Qd2?!


Position after 15.Qd2


Here White should take on f6. [15.Nxf6+! Qxf6 (15...Nxf6 16.Rc1)

16.Rc1 In both lines white still has a little edge.]


I was able to save my bishop from being traded by using a small tactical trick16.Bxe5 Bxb4 17.axb4 Rxe5 and Black is even slightly better.

16.Rab1 Bf8 17.Rfc1

It's time to create some weaknesses on the queenside.

17...a5 18.Bc3 axb4 19.axb4 Qb6 20.Qb2 Nxc3

I think I had to do this trade.My knight is good but the bishop on c3 is also a very important piece. Besides I didn't see how to make progress.

23.Qa1 Rxa3 24.Qxa3 Rd8

I saw 25.Qa5   coming but I believed the endgame  would  be O.K for me.

25.Qa5 Qxa5 26.bxa5 Bc8 27.Nd2 Kf7 28.Nc4 Bc5

Otherwise it's not clear what to do.

29.Nb6 Bxb6 30.axb6

30.Rxb6 Rd4! 31.a6 Ra4 32.Bd5+!!I missed that move in my calculations,as well as my opponent.32...cxd5 33.axb7 Bxb7 34.Rxb7+= The move in the game was not losing,but it made things more difficult.]

30...Bd7 31.Ra1 Ke7 32.Ra7 Rb8 


Position after 32...Rb8



33.e3 White needs to control the d4 square. 33...Kd6 34.d4 exd4 35.exd4 Be6 36.Ra5 and the game should be a draw. Even though White's king is not yet involved, the rook is very active.  

33...Kd6 34.Ra5 c5! 35.fxe5+ fxe5 36.Kf2 Bc6 37.Bh3

It's hard already to give good advice to White.

37...Bd5 38.Ra4 g5!


Position after 38...g5


It's important to reduce the activity of the white rook.

39.Ra1 Kc6 40.Rb1 h5 41.Bg2 Rf8+ 42.Kg1 Bxg2 43.Kxg2 Kd5 44.Rb5 g4!

Getting more space on kingside.

45.h3 Rf6 46.hxg4 hxg4 47.Rb3 e4 48.Rb5 e3 49.Kg1 Rf2 50.Rb2 Kc6‡ 51.Kh1 Rf1+ 52.Kg2 Rd1 53.Rb3 Ra1 54.Rc3 Ra4 Stopping d4. 55.Rb3 Rb4 56.Ra3 Rxb6 57.Ra8 Rb2 58.Kf1 Rb1+ 59.Kg2 Re1 60.Rg8 Rxe2+ 0–1

Also see Jerry Hanken's American Open Preview , and "Melik Annotates," from his Agoura Hills win in July 2008.